Saturday, September 22, 2018

Case for 'death with dignity' collapses under scrutiny

This letter was written by John Kelly and published in the Berkshire Eagle on September 19.

John Kelly is director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts: Disability Rights Activists Against Assisted Suicide.

John Kelly - Second Thoughts Massachusetts
To the editor:

I write to respond to the oped by John Berkowitz and three Western Massachusetts legislators in support of assisted suicide bill H.1994 (Eagle, Sept. 11).

Unsolvable problems with assisted suicide include the fact that terminal diagnoses are often wrong. Studies show that between 13 percent and 20 percent of people so diagnosed are not dying, and may live years or even decades longer. As examples, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy lived a full year longer than his terminal diagnosis of two to four months, while Florence resident John Norton credits the unavailability of assisted suicide for decades of good life after a mistaken prognosis.

Assisted suicide is a boon to insurance companies, as it instantly becomes the cheapest "treatment." (Search for stories of Californian Stephanie Parker and Nevada doctor Brian Callister.)

Against the writers' claim that there hasn't been one documented case of abuse, I encourage readers to search for Oregonians Thomas Middleton (financial abuse), Wendy Melcher (a trans woman), and Kathryn Judson (physician pressure).

The bill requires no independent witness at the death, so the supposed safeguard of "self-administration" is toothless. Especially vulnerable will be the 10 percent of Massachusetts seniors estimated to be abused every year, almost always by family members. A caregiver or heir to an estate can witness a person's request, pick up the prescription and then administer the lethal dose without worry of investigation — the bill immunizes everyone involved.

The writers say the bill is necessary to prevent "great pain and unrelieved suffering" at the end of life, but official reports from Oregon and Washington show that the top five reasons to request assisted suicide do not include pain, but rather "existential distress" (New England Journal of Medicine) over such issues as dependence on others, loss of abilities and feeling like a burden.

We disabled people reject the prejudice that physical dependence makes our lives undignified. Assisted suicide exacerbates social class distinctions. Support is concentrated in wealthier white communities such as the Pioneer Valley, while opposition is centered in communities of color and the working class. In 2012, black and Latino voters opposed assisted suicide by more than 2 to 1, effectively defeating assisted-suicide ballot Question 2. People historically disrespected and neglected by our health care system are rightly suspicious of the power to prescribe death.

The Legislature should continue rejecting a bill that would push vulnerable people toward early deaths.

John B. Kelly,


The author is director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts: Disability Rights Activists Against Assisted Suicide.

1 comment:

john said...

"Studies show that between 13 percent and 20 percent of people so diagnosed are not dying, and may live years or even decades longer"

You are a clot when you try to make a minority rule, the majority. You and your gang of "pro life" cults ban individuals who made up their minds to want to leave this earth with the only option of self-euthanasia that is terrible. You aren't giving them the permission to be their own directors of their own fates - you are trying to play God by enforcing ALL who have decided upon leaving this earth, that they are WRONG because of a small number of statistical outliers which are the corollary to the clause. Akin to telling someone who wants to leave your hotel "It will get better, maybe the vent doesn't work, but remember kids, there are always positives" And then blocking their way out. The best that "pro life" arguments goes is along a strawman road of saying "it might get better", when in fact most cases do not. You sweep everyone under the same brush who doesn't want to live anymore by make a case if sweeping generalisations of the nature "they are all mentally ill" when in fact you disregard the "rational euthanasia" altogether; so the burden of proof is on you to prove how all euthanasias are irrational and misguided by the de facto what you are presenting...

And why should you pro lifers have access to our lives? Why should you lot be in control of our access to euthanasia, at least for those who do not agree with you?

Because of you my aunt in pain could not get doctor's assisted euthanasia and had to die in pain. So there goes your logic out of the window. More pain and suffering to people who really want to leave, and more money to pro-lifers who keep others in the bay of a prison they don't want to be in, because they have NO option of leaving thanks to you feeble minded dunces.